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Report: MLS considering a switch to European schedule

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After 18 seasons of going against the grain of what FIFA desired, Major League Soccer is reportedly considering a move that would put the league in line with the biggest leagues in Europe.

According to a report in the New York Daily News, MLS is contemplating changing their schedule from a summer season to one that begins in either late-July or early August and ends in late-May or early June of the following year, with a six to eight week break in the middle.

(UPDATE: MLS Vice President of Communications, Dan Courtemanche, has responded to the report on his Twitter account, saying “We recently conducted a survey and it had some questions about possibly moving the schedule. We regularly conduct market research on a variety of topics. Our fans’ preferences are important to us and we’ve proven to be good listeners.

“‘Rumors’ is an appropriate way to classify (the report). MLS has reviewed many possible schedule formats throughout the years. We hope to announce soon, but the timing will be very similar to the current season.”)

Based on the response from MLS, it doesn’t sound like there is much validity in the report.

FIFA has long desired for MLS to move their calendar towards the kind that is seen in the big leagues in Europe, with seasons taking place through the winter, though certain countries like Germany and France do have winter breaks as well.

If the report is accurate, it would see northern MLS teams like the three Canadian franchises as well as the likes of the Chicago Fire, New York Red Bulls, and New England Revolution all playing parts of their season in bitterly cold temperatures, potentially on frozen fields as well. Both Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact began the 2013 seasons playing in domed stadiums in March, before moving into the regular stadiums in April.

Just last year on November 7, the New York Red Bulls home playoff game against D.C. United had to be postponed one day due to inclement weather, which included gusting winds and several inches of snow.

The report claims that MLS Commissioner Don Garber has wanted to move the MLS schedule in line with Europe for “a number of years” but talks have “intensified” recently into actually doing so. Since it’s inception in 1996, MLS has played their schedule through the summer. The 2013 league schedule began on March 2 and is set to conclude on December 7 in the MLS Cup final.


What do you think of this report? Do you believe this is a good idea for the growth of the league? Would you attend matches in winter temperatures? Do you believe the clubs themselves are behind this potential schedule change.

Share your thoughts below.


  1. How about just push the schedule up three weeks to start just after Superbowl. The most northern teams could start with a two week swing south and west. During international dates take the breaks like major European leagues. The time during World Cup will be offset by the early start and each team can promote during this time to keep momentum from MLS players coming back, and focus on reserve league play or whatever they want to call the second level of play. Then 2015 start right after Superbowl again thus giving clubs time to plan their stadium building projects with the idea of more covering and heated fields, I think TFC is the only club with this system now.

  2. Y’all are focused ont hequality of play. How about the fact that no noe is going to come to these winter games. NYRB had a miniscule crowd for a playoff game in November last year against DC. A playoff game. Imagine some regular season match against San Jose or Vancouver.

      • You’ve apparently never faced the prospect of sitting in a freezing stadium after driving though snow for two hours to make what usually is a 30-minute drive. It’s a horrible idea for fans of every MLS team except the ones on the West Coast and in Texas – 2/3 of the league.

  3. Significant expansion plans already entail risk to the league. A significant scheduling change of any sort would also of course entail risk to the league. Doing both things at the same time would be foolhardy.

  4. I don’t see what interest FIFA has in the MLS schedule beyond making sure it accomodates International matches (which I understand). As another poster pointed out, it’s silly to hype up a game on TV and then have the best 8 players be out on national team duty.

    Why not just start the season earlier (i.e. the week after the Superbowl) and have the Northern teams open up the season with 4-5 road games. They get the favor returned in July/August. That way the Southern teams play more home games when the weather is perfect and avoid having to play at home in the summer when many cities (Houston, and in the future Atlanta, Orlando and Miami in particular) are humid hell-holes. Everyone wins. People will complain about having to play so many road games in a row, but if all teams have to go through it at some point what difference does it make?

    By stretching out the schedule you allow for more “off weeks” for FIFA matches/major tournaments.

  5. I want to read all the comments, but also wanted to throw my .02 out there. Screw FIFA! They’ve wanted MLS to change the schedule for years, and when MLS finally does… they’ll have to change it back to accommodate the winter world cup in 2022. Stay with what you have now MLS. It’s turned out to be a great schedule and is developing a strong following as a summer time sport.

    Every time I catch a match the stadiums keep getting better the crowd and atmosphere are improving and the level of play is also on the up. Screw FIFA!

    • Amen. You look at Emirates Stadium and the look and naming rights concept of the place are swiped from here. Seattle has massive crowds. We need to get over our complex.

      MLS probably has better temperature/attendance records than us, but I’d think their sweet spot is 50-90F and a summer schedule maximizes that. Surely rather than sending out speculative surveys they could just run some graphs of temperature versus attendance, factoring in quality of opponent.

      Practically speaking, I think the competitive landscape depends on your perspective. The Sounders could probably play year round and the ticket buyers would show. I think you’d lose fans to bowls and NFL playoffs still, but they’d get theirs. But weaker teams might struggle. Teams in colder regions with less fervent fan bases might struggle. Some teams in Canada would maybe do fine though. Attendance would drop overall and you’d lose tons of TV viewers in January. I actually think we benefit from competing against the ultimate fixture congestion of MLB, and playing in warmer months.

  6. I love you MLS but I also love the NFL and NHL. You won’t have a lot of my attention from September to January for football and April to June for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    • Exactly, too many people here are taking the position that you can only be 1: the die hard soccer only fan. Reality is that the majority of the people in the stands aren’t limited that way and the growth of the league has been and will be in large part contingent upon casual fans (which is not to say that anyone who watches another sport must instantly be labeled a casual).

      • you are partially true, but there is not a huge overlap of fanbases. for example in seattle the seahawks and sounders season ticket base overlaps by a measly 2% only.

      • In person attendance is less the issue as compared to the broad swathes of tv audience. That’s where the league is looking for more money and its also where it faces the most competition.

  7. Attendance would certainly fall if MLS switched to the European soccer calendar. A 1 month break in January or February would help with the bitter cold, but it is still too cold for most casual fans.

    In 5-10 years, when teams are consistently bringing in 20,000+ rabid fans, then I can see it working.

    • no, you gotta believe son. We are talking about 25,000 seat stadium with cheap soccer tickets. Once MLS gets warmer markets and makes MLS teams upgrade their stadiums with full roof covers ( not your typical roof cover), heated pitch and good drainage…..and dont forget about expansion teams. MLS is looking at the big picture and in reality, MLS is fed up with NBA,NFL,MLB stealing their ideas and fans.

      • Indeed. I could see MLS getting all of this in place by….2050….if the league wins several $300 million-plus lotteries.

      • You are not making any sense. You are allowed to believe what you want, but your logic is flawed. If I spent time responding to everything you have said in your 3/4 previous postings, I would have hand-cramps. Do you know how expensive heated fields are? Not all teams in the UK have them! Not all teams in the NFL have it! Converting stadiums? You do know that most MLS are still NOT PROFITABLE.

    • I also think the break would kill off the momentum aspect of fan interest. If it’s one long season, the fans start to care about their start, oh my team is w-l-t, whammo break, how bout them Texans and Rockets, break over…..wait, how are the Dynamo doing again? You also risk losing fans to the winter sports they watched during the break.

      Germany and Sweden can do this because soccer is still pretty top dog. But soccer in the US is still fighting for a niche and looking for attention span. I know in terms of TV it already has to fight college (local TV) and NFL football (playoffs) this way.

  8. The bigger problem with the MLS schedule right now is how out of sync it is. There was a point in this current season when RSL had played FIVE more games than Seattle. There’s really no excuse for the schedule to get that out of balance.

    There are also scheduling issues to conclude the regular season: RSL plays at Portland on 10/19 in a game with massive Supp. Shield, MLS Cup seeding and CCL-qualifying implications. Following that game RLS hosts Chivas USA on 10/23; then just three days later Portland plays at Chivas USA on 10/26.

    It’s ridiculous that so much could be decided by Chivas USA playing against two top clubs within the span of 4 days to close out the season.

    In the EPL the final games of the season are all played on the same day and start at the same time. I don’t see any reason MLS can’t do the same.

      • What’s ridiculous is that they play them in the span of 4 days. If RSL beats Portland, expect to see a lot of scrutiny given (from both camps) to what kind of lineup Chivas fields for each of those games. They’re in a prime position to play kingmaker.

        My point is that there’s really no excuse for the MLS schedule to be so out of sync at the end of the season.

  9. I think it’s a great idea and very doable.

    Would you want to ‘tweak’ the schedule to minimize the home games in cold months for the colder cities? Sure. We’ve done more drastic things just for one player.

    Do I care about conflicts with other sports? Not really, and I don’t think most other fans would care, either. Do we want to avoid playing at the same time as the Superbowl? Sure, just as I expect MLB to postpone their games if the USA was in a World Cup Final – it’s just good business.

    Most importantly, MLS will never get the next level without this change. Playing in the heat of the summer reduces quality of play too much. Too many games are played with missing stars. Too many games are played during major tournaments (Gold Cup, Euro Cup, World Cup). So, so many reasons.

    • ” Playing in the heat of the summer reduces quality of play too much” as opposed to playing in freezing cold of winter ?

    • Playing in the heat of summer reduces level of play significantly less than playing on a frozen field in NY in February. There are some enticing reasons to switch, as you point out, but, despite its growth, MLS is still a league in its formative years, and WILL NOT compete on its own against the major American sports leagues.

      • or, for that matter, European leagues which have higher tv numbers than nationally broadcast domestic games.

  10. For the all the non believers, MLS can easily do the international calendar and make more money and help the national team. Why be afraid of MLB (so boring sport, i just watch the playoffs, which are during the week), NBA season is so long that only the last fourth of the league is important, NFL (NFL only plays sundays, NHL support is going down, and NCAA is nothing big because every year, its always the same teams winning in college basketball and football.
    MLS fans need to realize, if the schedule changes, it will be till miami, atlanta and orlando join and what if MLS grows to 26 or 28 teams.
    MLS has 2 LA teams, San Jose, Houston, Dallas, (Salt Lake and Denver depending), (orlando, miami, atlanta for sure) with good weather. Thats like half of the league and what if MLS adds more than 24 teams, like 28 with more warm cities or good weather stadiums.
    For instance, MLS can start on 4th of July or early august. Then have a break around december and come back during super bowl weekend or after super bowl weekend.
    During the break, have a tournament in Hawaii with NASL teams or friendlies in non MLS markets.
    After the break, there is no NFL, no college football, no MLB and you only got march madness and NHL playoffs and boring Nascar.
    After the season ends in May, have the MLS all star game, MLS teams play their friendlies against European teams and have preseason tournaments.
    So lets say MLS tells MLS owners, by 2017-2018 we are going for the international calendar, so get your stadiums ready with roof cover and heating field and good drainage 🙂 whats the big deal

      • why? you do know during the summer, people go out of town, work longer hours due to the summer economy. People in the summer just do so many stuff and why is MLS and soccer a sport for the “summer.” Its freaking hot and humid everywhere in the U.S. Crazy rain and heat in the summer is ugly.

      • + 1.

        Plus after break he just happened to leave out the NBA. They are still around and playing in Feb. and while it might not be big in El Paso in my neck of the woods it’s HUGE.

      • and he just breezed over the NHL playoffs which as anyone in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, and half a dozen other markets (including prospective ones in Minneapolis and Detroit) can tell you is a pretty big deal up here.

      • What about the nhl,nfl and nba fans who drive through snow just to see their team play another typical game of hockey or basketball, when soccer is only once a week. For example, the nfl is like soccer, they only play once a week and make it worth for the fan. So MLS is basically going to be the same thing like NFL.

      • by the way, the current schedule of MLS goes against NCAA football season, half of NFL season, march madness, hockey and most of MLB. so whats the difference?

      • The difference would be cutting off the flow of the MLS season by a 2-3 month break and heading down the regular season stretch in full competition with the NBA/NHL/NCAA. That and the weather.

      • Well people may drive through snow to watch the NBA but they don’t sit in it when they get there. And saying “MLS is basically going to be the same thing like NFL” doesn’t make it so.

  11. If MLS wants to move to the European calendar, the cold-weather clubs could start and end the season on the road and have longer home stands in the summer. It’s mutually beneficial for the warm-weather cities as well, who would spend more time on the road when it’s 95 degrees at home in June/August/September.

    The northeastern, midwestern and high altitude clubs would play mostly away in March/April/October/November, while the western and incoming southern clubs would play on the road when it’s sweltering and/or humid.

    On the road during winter:

    On the road during summer:
    Orlando (?)
    Miami (?)
    Atlanta (?)
    San Antonio (?)

    Doesn’t matter because it’s always raining:

      • We could plenty of things without having to change to a winter schedule. As someone who spent plenty of time in the east coast during the winter, i would rather play in heat then on a field covered in 2 inches of snow and bitter cold. And before you say Europe does it, why can’t we? Well USA is far more cold then most of Europe. BTW…go look at the Scandinavian league schedules.

  12. Wonder if Apertura/Clausura would be a possibility, with such a big break? Works in Mexico in terms of business, but now the fans are to ADD’ed by it to go back to European style.

    • I don’t think that would work in North America for the casual fan. The idea of have two championships with two mini-seasons would be jarring to grasp for those that are only familiar with the North American sports landscape.

      • But that’s the thing about soccer: A lot of fans are not only familiar with the North American sports landscape. The idea of apertura/clausura would be no less jarring than a cup tournament or the Champions League – which are uncommon on the North American sports landscape, but on the rise for MLS fans.

    • I don’t like the two mini-seasons. It has no continuity, just like the current CONCACAF champions league format. An MLS squad playing in the 2013 group stage could look totally different in 2014 knockout rounds. It’s essentially two different teams.

      Regardless of that tangent: the idea of two different seasons with two champions who play each other for another championship seems redundant. Just play one season and get it over with.

    • One issue I see with it is that MX plays an 18 team 17 game schedule plus the liguilla. We’re already beyond that in terms of size, and so we wander into fixture congestion and schedule imbalance unless you do something creative like split the league up.

      Another issue would be title glut. You want the fans to care about each Cup but a title every few months is de-sensitizing. Maybe a Super Bowl type game between title winners? I still think it’s too much, each title starts to matter less. Like pro rel I think this aspect is more interesting to purists or fans of other leagues than our own general fanbase.

  13. “Fifa would like the MLS to switch?” I’m sure Fifa would also like us to build sixteen indoor stadiums that still have natural grass, and pay them a few billion dollars for the privilege. Oh wait, I’m thinking of Qatar.

  14. The schedule is ok the way it is, MLS just needs to respect the FIFA international dates. So dumb to hype up the 1-2 games a week on national tv and then have the best 6-7 players out for international duty.

  15. I’m on that Supporter’s Survey thing from MLS. They made it clear from their questions that they are looking at possibly doing a European calander with a a LONG winter break. I’m going by memory but I think they were looking at taking off all of December and January then coming back in mid Feb.

    But don’t get too excited, the survey before this one was about changing the playoffs, more teams, less team, the same number of teams being the biggest question, then a question over if we preferred the old best of three series format, one-off matches for every round, or home and away champions league style for each round.

    • I got that survey too.

      So, they are considering it. I think the question they are asking, is the fan base mature enough to follow MLS using a normal International calendar?

      I am in agreement with Wynalda on this one. Our player values go up and our ability to compete in the transfer market is better.

      Would fans continue to follow the league under this schedule? I say yes.

      • ” normal International calendar” what is normal? I thin the MLS is normal. Is Mexico normal? Brazil? Norway?

      • Brazil’s calendar is ridiculous with the league, the state playoffs, the Copa Libertadores, Sudamerica and their national cup.

  16. Really dumb idea. I’m not going to watch when your competing against MLB playoffs, college football, NFL, march madness, and NBA playoffs.

    • You realize the current MLS season runs concurrent with the MLB playoffs, college football regular season, 13 weeks of the NFL season, March Madness and the NBA playoffs already? In other words, your comment was complete nonsense.

    • MLS competes with all of those things already, the only difference is that now there are a couple months in the summer when they only compete with MLB. With a winter schedule they would compete with the NFL and college football for a couple more months true. But that’s it, you can throw those other sports out.

      In fact they would compete with NBA and NHL playoffs (which stretch into late June) less than they have to now. March Madness would be the same, MLB playoffs would be the same.

  17. I don’t understand why the whole country needs to be on the same schedule. There simply isn’t a 9-10 month window that offers nice weather everywhere in the US/Canada. Why not just divide everything into regions, let the clubs play mostly within their regions at times when the weather is decent, do some interleague play and then do the playoffs kinda like a mini-Champion’s League.

    Especially with Atlanta, Orlando and Miami coming into MLS, you can’t just expect people to sit through all those hot games down there. Those places should be off in the summer. Toronto/Boston/Chicago, etc. should be off in the winter.

    • I have always liked this idea, or a variant of it.

      What worries me about MLS is that they may be too eager to cash in the big chips with big indoor stadiums on artificial turf in prime time in biggest media markets..etc.etc. garber seems very accomodative to that approach.

      I wish there were a stronger grassroots movement out there. I think the tortoise beats the hare eventually.

      • The idea really fixes. Lot of MLS issues. The USA is too big for one league to cover all of it. Transportation costs alone are huge because of this. Scheduling problems are obvious. If cities like Indy and Raleigh can support NASL teams and do a bit more it could feasible. Its all about money though. A ten team pacific northwest league and a ten team northeast corridor league may be enticing but the money won’t allow that kind of speculation.

  18. This could work if the league expands to warm weather cities. If the league started early and ended late (mid August to mid June) there could be sizable winter break (like all of January). If the schedule were made so that warm weather teams would get home stands in the Winter and cold weather teams would get home stands in the Summer then the number of games that would be affected by climate could be minimized.

  19. I think it would be crazy not to play at least through June and hold playoffs in July; then you could take the rest of July and all of August off, perhaps part of January / February off and games in warmer climates in December and the rest of January and February. But, why?

    Why try to overlap more with the NFL and college football? It’s better now with less overlap (the way it is now.

    • Certainly it would make sense to schedule MLS games head-to-head with the FIFA World Cup. Who would want our best players on the field for the championships?

    • Exactly.. there is no way we could have playoffs conflict with the World Cup and to a lesser extent the Gold Cup. Every other year players like Donovan, Dempsey, EJ, Zusi etc would miss the playoffs.

      • Won’t be in place for 2014 and 2022 the World Cup will be held in the winter. Only issue in the next twelve years is 2018 … for that year, will need to finish up early. There’s always a need, from time to time, to have flex scheduling, just like Europe will implement in 2022.

    • July would be the worst time to hold playoffs. First there’s weather. Have you been to houston, Dallas, DC, or say Orlando, Atlanta, Miami in July? Makes for an awful game (why do you think Houston plays on such a narrow field?) then, in three out of four years you’d have major national team conflicts (Gold cup, Euros, WC)

  20. Play February to mid march regular season games in spring training sites and it could work-Argentina does something similar in summer (January) when it plays games in vacation spots all over the country

  21. -competing with the nfl and other US sports in the fall.
    this only goes so far..i honestly think there are enough fans in the US and days in the year to make this work. obviously well thought out scheduling needs to happen
    -dealing with the cold weather in the winter
    not a great thing for half interested fans but personally I love watching cold games! soccer is played in the cold winter months in northern Europe and elsewhere.. Id take a cold crisp (or even a little snow) over a humid summer afternoon.
    -loosing all of our quality players to Gold Cups, Confed Cups, Qualifying, World Cups every summer –> this is what I have a problem with.

    I would wait to see what FIFA does with the International Calendar preceding Qatar before changing the league schedule. I would image that they are going to be open up a winter and summer international window. My plan would be to develop a Fall+Spring season. 20 games July-Nov and 14 games Feb-April followed by playoffs in May could work!

    • If FIFA insists on pushing the winter WC in Qatar, the big Euro leagues are going to get some concessions in terms of international dates and youth tournaments.
      So I agree with you, the amount of international dates will decrease if the big 4/5 get their way.

  22. The European leagues should switch to our schedule. The schedules will always “compete” with someone. That is what forces the league to put a good product out. Keep the MLS on its current schedule

  23. This would be a big issue for me as an MLS season ticket holder in a cold weather market…The vast majority of the current season is played with baseball being the only competition. Move the league to winter and on a typical Saturday the league will compete with the NHL, NBA and college basketball. Also, there will continue to be NFL overlap.

    Being able to tailgate throughout the summer in great weather is also a huge plus for the league. I skipped some early season games this year due to cold weather and playing a large part of the season in the colder months would be a big negative for me. I wouldn’t stop going to MLS games but I wouldn’t purchase season tickets…I would just pick and choose select games throughout the year.

    Also, winter breaks are accepted in certain European countries but it’s not something that American sports fans are used to…sports here do not go away for two months in the middle of the season. I think people will lose interest with that long of a break and start watching something else.


    The problem now is that MLS’s championship competes with college and NFL football. That is a battle that MLS can never win. Switch to the Euro calendar and take a long winter break and you kick off your season in a down time for sports (MLB is in the middle of the season, NBA/NHL are done, football is yet to start) and finish with weaker competition (NBA/NHL; early season MLB) than we face currently. MLS has to get folks watching at the beginning and the end of the season to grow its fanbase. I think this will work out if they handle the winter break right.

    The most important thing to bring casual fans into the MLS, in my opinion, is to get them watching at the end of the season. Right now, that’s impossible. King Football and the MLB Playoffs are always going to dominate the November storylines. May and early June don’t have nearly the competition. You’ve got early season baseball, NBA, and the Stanley Cup. I think MLS can go head to head with all 3 in the US (in part because there are fewer matches). The Canadian sides may be the most opposed to this change because it would put MLS head-to-head with hockey. Even then, the two sports are totally different and the type of competition (single championship game rather than seven-game series) gives MLS a good shot.

    Besides, shouldn’t the soccer championship be played in the best weather of the season rather than the worst?

    • Good point except it’s freezing and unpleasant in the the northern US and Canada in winter. There are very few places in Europe where the winter is as severe as it is in those areas and those places mostly have a summer schedule.

  25. Was at the snowbowl at RBA. Was the coolest unplayed match I’ve ever been to lol. As a supporter, I would much rather go to cold weather matches in January than the annual match or two that takes place at 1pm in July with 100 degree temperatures.

    • I was there and back the next day when the game took place. It was a miserable experience and not just because of the result. I don’t think, based on the attendance that day, that many others would prefers to watch games in those conditions.

      • Yea you’re probly right about that. One thing is for sure, our supporters sections will remain full. Can’t say the same for the rest of the stadium.

      • Yeah, but you’re potentially getting those conditions under either scenario. The question is would you rather it be a regular season or playoff match in Nov & Dec?

  26. Don’t like the European schedule here. Not because just because of the weather. If you want to grow the sport of soccer and MLS in America, you’re not gonna do it when it with a European schedule where it has to compete with the NFL and the NBA season.

  27. Horrendous idea. I’ll cancel my NYRB season tickets if this happens and watch the games on TV rather than pay to sit in 30 degree weather and watch it live with the handful of people who would be there.

    I disagree though with those who say that this would be worse in terms of competing with other sports. In April/May, MLS would only have to compete with the NBA/NHL playoffs which is a lot better than competing with the baseball postseason, NFL and college football. Right now, the MLS Cup final is up against some huge college football games that same day.

    That said, this is a terrible idea because the weather makes it impossible.

  28. Winter appears to be FIFA’s favorite season. All countries have to play soccer during that month, so that Qatar can screw everyone equally.

    This isn’t a good idea. Competition with other sports leagues is bad enough, playing in horrible winter conditions is worse. This is all so MLS can be considered part of FIFA’s empire, but it’s not good for anyone but Garber’s ambitions, and Blatter’s… whatever subhuman process goes through his mind. We want to be considered part of the big boys, but we haven’t truly captured the imaginations of Americans yet. Seattle, Portland, and the Canadian franchises have a firm hold, but until the knowledge of MLS’s existence becomes common knowledge, which it still isn’t on par with the other leagues, this move is useless.

      • Almost all games are on the weekends and I work during the week. I could ride one day and watch soccer the other, but i’d rather make threats. Its never too hot in Denver for soccer games at night, but kickoff would have to be at 1:00 in the winter to be fine temperature wise most days

  29. MLS recently sent out a survey asking fans about switching to the European schedule. My guess is they got a lot of positive responses if they’re now discussing the switch seriously.

    Personally, I think it’s worth risking the poor weather if it allows for greater attention on the playoffs.

  30. I’ve always wondered why fans are willing to brave the cold temps to watch a NFL game but not a MLS match. The only conceivable reason is because it’s etched in our brains that soccer in this country is a warm weather sport. It’s a mentality, I guess. I live in Denver and I am well accustomed to the craziness of our weather patters. It can literally be 75 degrees on March 1 and 25 degrees on March 2nd with 12 inches of snow. Hell, I’ve seen this happen in the course of 12 hours. Spring is usually our snowiest months. Moving to a Euro schedule, much like the current MLS schedule still wouldn’t bypass those months. I personally don’t care if they switch. I can and have braved the cold at Dick Sporting Goods Park — see US vs. Costa Rica. it wouldn’t hamper my support of the Rapids and the league. However, I’m aware that I might be in the minority.

    • Soccer isn’t supposed to be played in snow. Sure, it can be but it’s a lot different than football, which can be played in pretty much any condition, although obviously the weather can impact the game quite a bit.

      • Playing devil’s advocate — who says it’s not suppose to be played in the snow?? Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, many of the central and eastern European nations have matches played in snow. It’s not all that uncommon. Heated pitches help limit the unplayable conditions. Also, having an 8 week “winter break” helps, too. However, like I said previously, it doesn’t matter to me if the schedule is changed. March and early April still wouldn’t be bypassed and those can be and often are the snowiest months in Denver.

      • I know RSL’s field is heated, and I believe the Rapid’s field is too. We saw what that means when the USMNT played CR in Denver this year, and the same when the USWNT played Mexico in 2010 at Rio Tinto.

        There isn’t a “perfect” answer to this question.

    • Because the NFL has existed at that schedule for 90 years and soccer in the US has always been played summer schedule including the old NASL. The NFL is so popular in the US that it can get people outside in the middle of winter and, while MLS attendance is strong, I wouldn’t want to make that bet especially going against the NFL.

      • But even the NFL does not play football in January, February or March, (except for the SB, which is indoors or in a warm climate. They are not dumb enough to hold major sporting events in the dead of winter.

  31. although a Fall-Spring season can be done in cold climates as seen in Ukraine and Russia, I don’t see the point for MLS to do it relative to its market position in the U.S…. late May/early June is NBA/NHL playoff time and the only benefit to MLS would be lack of overlap in certain markets (heavy Pacific NW, no Florida) but in Chicago, LA, texas and the Northeast I don’t see how MLS won’t get buried under NBA/NHL playoffs… the biggest open window in the American sports calendar is post NBA/NHL post-season and pre Labor Day start of NFL/College Football-early July to early Septmber… if MLS wants to maximize exposure it has to keep games gonig during that time-either regualt season or playoffs- bu simply switching to fall/spring and giving up the best window of exposure for the worst (going up against both NFL/College Football in the fall and NBA/NHL/March Madness in the spring is a folly in my opinion

  32. Kiss of Death.

    It only takes one really bad decision to doom the MLS and this is it. Be prepared to see the attendance drop 20-50 percent. TV contracts shrink or non-existent, and coverage of the sport lessen as they compete with college and pro sports.

    Right now, the MLS enjoys competition with only baseball, imagine if it had to compete with NFL football, NBA basketball, NHL hockey and College sports.

    Now imagine being the only outdoor sport played in January, February, March on the Eastern seaboard and the NE US.

    This really bad move has come at the prompting of FIFA, and specifically UEFA, who, being in their own sports world where soccer reign supreme, have little knowledge of US sports economics and TV broadcast history.

    The US is the only nation that has 5 major Sports Leagues and a HUGE college sports following in football and basketball. Having to compete with most all of them for a league that is only just starting is not well thought out and probably suicidal. I hope Garber,et, al and Gulati are doing this as a sop to FIFA, and not on their range of things to do

  33. Agreed that this isn’t necessary. But if they do do it then one option would be combining the break in the middle (Dec/Jan) with Nov and Feb games hosted disproportionately in warmer climates.

  34. I actually really like MLS having a March-October schedule, it provides plenty of soccer in July and August while the European leagues are in the offseason and preseason. Really, all that needs to happen is for MLS to adhere to all the FIFA international breaks. Switching entirely to an August-May schedule is overkill.

  35. I’m not sure this is a great idea, although with MLS popularity where it’s at I think starting the discussion is appropriate. It’s conceivable that attendance could handle the competition with other sports. Weather is another thing entirely.

    The most important thing in my opinion is creating a schedule that will break during FIFA dates. It’s increasingly the case that teams are majorly effected by this. For those who like the arguement that Brazil’s league doesn’t break for FIFA dates – their domestic league players are less likely to be playing internationally. Most of the Selecao are European based – of course there are exceptions – and they don’t have a as many foreign players being called in by their respective national teams. So MLS can address this two ways – change the schedule or have less foreign players/ USMNT players (like the Brazilian league).

    • Oh, you mean the awesome US-Costa Rica game that SportsCenter covered for days afterwards? The one that people who don’t even follow soccer were talking about? The one that fans had a great time at? Yeah, it would be awful for MLS to earn that kind of media coverage.

      • Why don’t you get out of “Bama” once in a while and try sitting in the stands at a game in the northern US or Canada in February?

      • Why would they play in those places in February? Take a winter break, then sends those teams on the road in the South until early March. Toronto and/or Montreal could do a “Back to Soccer” game at their local domed stadiums. All it takes is smart scheduling.

        I’d suggest you try sitting in Houston in 110 degrees in July. It sucks. The smart thing to do would be to send teams like that on the road in July and the first part of August. It really would not be that hard.

      • You’re confusing spectacle with player and fan safety and fan interest. Fans might have shown up for the USA because they bought tickets for an isolated quali but if you have to play in this on a weekly basis people may get hurt and attendances may be impacted.

        I also don’t think a “NASCAR wreck” audience of people interested in televised craziness as opposed to the sport played well in appropriate conditions.

        I’m also going to throw in as someone who lived in England for a bit that they still have some weather postponements but that their season gives a misleading impression because the Gulf Stream keeps the temperatures warmer than otherwise, if flat. That is to say, it will be 35 all day, unlike the larger variations in the States. So even though it’s cold it freezes and snows less often than it might (think Seattle or Vancouver), which allows games through winter. I think the experiences of northern continental Europe are more relevant to North American winters (for the northern tier like Boston, NY, Toronto, Ohio, Montreal), and Germany takes a month off, some of the Scandinavian leagues play something more like we do.

      • England certainly is more temperate than here. But they don’t take a winter break. Germany, Denmark, and Russia all play July/August – May and have weather every bit as cold as ours. We’re talking here about taking a long winter break and, most likely, scheduling most December, February, and March matches in warm weather climates or indoors. There is no reason to believe this could not be done.

  36. Nice way to kill attendance. No one wants to go to a game in Colorado in February.

    Part of the joy of MLS is that it takes place when other leagues are off.


  37. I guess it shows a (delusional) confidence in the league’s popularity.

    Knee-jerk reaction is mistake, time is more likely to make me think big mistake instead of not being a mistake.

  38. For me, it would be a lot easier to follow MLS if they followed the European model. I don’t have a hometown MLS team. The two sports I follow closely are football and soccer. With MLS as it is, I follow things fairly closely until September (minus international tournaments when the MLS games are garbage with international players out) and then have a difficult time following things from there on out. Games are routinely scheduled against the World Series and big college/NFL football games. And then of course, the MLS Playoffs which takes place during the heart of college football season.

    With intelligent scheduling (don’t play in Dallas/Houston in July/August unless you wanted to do a kickoff game at JerryWorld or Reliant; don’t play in Toronto/Montreal in February unless you want to do a return-from-winter-break game at the Rogers Centre or Stade Olympique), there’s no reason for the weather to be any bigger deal than it is now with the league playing at the end of February and into November.

    The most important thing to bring casual fans into the MLS, in my opinion, is to get them watching at the end of the season. Right now, that’s impossible. King Football and the MLB Playoffs are always going to dominate the November storylines. May and early June don’t have nearly the competition. You’ve got early season baseball, NBA, and the Stanley Cup. I think MLS can go head to head with all 3 in the US (in part because there are fewer matches). The Canadian sides may be the most opposed to this change because it would put MLS head-to-head with hockey. Even then, the two sports are totally different and the type of competition (single championship game rather than seven-game series) gives MLS a good shot.

    Besides, shouldn’t the soccer championship be played in the best weather of the season rather than the worst?

    • I see the logic behind your idea, but I don’t agree. Speaking as someone who played soccer in NY, playing games in November, early December and late February can be bitterly cold. I think the main point of any move should be lining up the MLS calendar with the global transfer windows and observing all FIFA dates.

      Shifting play dates to warm weather locations would give those teams playing away for 2 months an unfair disadvantage. How about training? Most of these teams train outside. Not all leagues play on the European schedule. Also, games during the summer is a great advantage because there is nothing else going on. There is a lot going on in the Fall in the American landscape. Most sports (including soccer) get ratings by attracting casual observers/fans. I say this because I have 2 friends who work in sports marketing (one actually works with soccer as well). That is easier in the summer, but will prove to be much more difficult with the 2 biggest fan sports playing (NFL and College football). Not to mention that NHL and NBA start and the most popular part of baseball is going on.

      It annoys me when some people (not directed at you personally) want to cave to FIFA without discussing every aspect. I have lived on 3 continents and what FIFA suggests does not work for everyone. It does not even work for every in Europe.

      • Your point on fall is well taken. Which is why, although MLS competes with the NBA and the NHL on attendance, it absolutely gets destroyed by both of them when it comes to ratings for the championship. MLS currently schedules its playoffs in absolutely the worst possible time of year for casual fans to follow in the US. This could get that fixed. Imagine an MLS Cup Final on Memorial Day in primetime.

  39. I get that we want to be like all the other sneetches on the beeches…but I’m just not a fan of this. Even an 8 week vacation, all of December and most of January, means teams will be playing in extremely cold weather. Here’s the average high/low temperatures for six MLS teams in February:
    Chicago: 36/22
    Boston: 39/25
    Columbus: 42/22
    Denver: 49/18
    Montreal: 26/15
    Toronto: 32/22

    What percent of current fans will want to sit outside for an early February game if it’s 25 degrees out? 80%? I think the league would see significant attendance drops if it goes through with this.

    • Chicago already has problems getting fans from the city out to Toyota Park due to it’s location in the suburbs. Move those games to February and you’ll be able to hear a pin drop.

      • None of the cities with soulless surburban stadiums are doing particularly well in attendance. I don’t think that’s weather. I think it has a lot more to do with Chicago doing a poor job at developing a local fanbase like Sporting KC, Portland, Seattle, etc. MLS cannot continue to hold itself back to protect the clubs that are lagging behind.

    • It’s pretty simple. Take an 8-week break throughout the last half of Dec, all of Jan and halfway through February. Don’t play in the cities above until early March (those teams can survive 3-4 weeks on the road). Toronto and Montreal could each play a game at their local domed stadium during that time.

      Do that and you’re not really playing in any of those cities in any colder weather than they do now. I’d suggest the same for Houston/Dallas in July.

      • I think this is the most logical response. If they go to a fall-spring schedule they would just need to take a break from the first or second week of December to the first or second week of February and play the games nearest to the break in warmer weather cities. If Miami, Orlando and Atlanta are added to the league you can expect decent weather in:

        Kansas City
        Washington DC

        Los Angeles x2
        San Jose
        Salt Lake City

        Add the 24th team to St Louis and you could get 16 host teams during the last two weeks before the winter break and first three weeks after the break. If a long road trip is the biggest drawback, then it isn’t the worst thing in the world.

  40. Not a good idea, this will plummet attendance figures. I imagine that David Beckham and the potential Miami bid are behind this. 😉

  41. not sure this makes sense. the majority of mls fans are suburban families more so than hard core soccer fans. I have my doubts that the suburban families will brave the elements to watch mls soccer…especially when you can watch top level European soccer at home on a 60″ flat screen while laying on there leather couch in a climate controlled environment.

  42. I’ve always been curious if FIFA is also actively trying to get other countries like Brazil, Japan, China, etc to also switch to a Fall/Spring schedule. It’s not like we’re the only outlier in the entire world…

    • me too and well said

      at this point I like the way MLS plays when others don’t. would be much happier to simply see MLS not schedule during FIFA dates

  43. I can understand that Don wants the schedule to switch because that’s what the rest of the world does. But the rest of the world doesn’t have to compete with the NHL, the Nfl, college football, college basketball, and the NBA all playing during that time, while we do. In the summer we only have to conpete with baseball

    • I think you can use the competition arguement, but I don’t think MLS’s competition is other US sports. I think their main competition, if they switched to a European schedule, would be European football. I think there is a very large segment of the MLS and other american league supporters that are independent and don’t overlap much if at all. This obviously isn’t everyone, but I think it is a large number of people.

    • The problem now is that MLS’s championship competes with college and NFL football. That is a battle that MLS can never win. Switch to the Euro calendar and take a long winter break and you kick off your season in a down time for sports (MLB is in the middle of the season, NBA/NHL are done, football is yet to start) and finish with weaker competition (NBA/NHL; early season MLB) than we face currently. MLS has to get folks watching at the beginning and the end of the season to grow its fanbase. I think this will work out if they handle the winter break right.

      • I’d ask you which is more importan financiallyt: the 15 games total in the playoffs for 10 teams or the 296 played by 19 teams?
        The MLS playoffs can struggle against competition but there’s at least the natural draw of it being the playoffs that can raise some interest. There’s no comparison however on the damage that would be done week in and week out for months of the regular season when it isn’t the playoffs or even the playoff race.
        The MLS Cup’s just gonna have to grow stronger on the merits of the league because switching to winter-spring would kill the fan interest of MLS much more quickly than anything else.

  44. Don’t do it. The league isn’t in a position to get fans to show up in sub zero temperatures. Also, unreal as it may seem, I know a few Brits who actually follow MLS since it is during summer, a soccer fix for them.

    • This is a good point. MLS HAS to be on during the summer because that is the lowest point in the US for sports. They only have to compete with a too long baseball season.


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